If Western governments and humanitarian organizations turn their backs on Afghans right now, we will be dooming a whole country to an endless loop of abject poverty with unpredicted lengthy repercussions.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaida, was killed by a U.S. drone strike in the middle of Kabul in July, but Afghanistan’s problems and the condition of the Afghan people are essentially unaltered.
Tens of thousands of Afghans slept out at Kabul International Airport in August of last year in the vain attempt to get a seat on one of the Western military evacuation aircraft, and for a few weeks, Afghanistan topped headlines across the world.
World leaders, diplomats, and relief workers in Kabul were taken aback by how quickly the former Afghan government crumbled after an immediate departure of NATO troops under American leadership. The rapidity of events astounded even the Taliban and the Afghans.
The belief that there would be a transitional government engaging the Taliban in power sharing has given Western funders reason to be optimistic about their long-term involvement in Afghanistan. Ironically, Western leaders lacked a backup strategy.
The rest of the world was under pressure to deal with Afghanistan’s long-term socioeconomic issues, a severe drought, and a humanitarian calamity that has only become worse since the Taliban’s return to power. These demands were there when the last evacuation flight departed the capital.
One year after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, it is evident that Western sanctions against the group’s leaders and the Taliban government’s prolonged nonrecognition have done little to change the group’s inflexible ideology or extreme policies.
In the meantime, 13 million children and over 25 million other Afghans require humanitarian aid. More over half of the population is represented by this. Due to serious acute malnutrition, almost a million children under the age of five need care.
What Can the West Do?
The Afghanistan Strategic Learning Initiative (ASLI) has conducted independent, evidence-based research that comes to the conclusion that humanitarian assistance cannot address Afghanistan’s economic crisis on its own. Financial backing for Afghanistan’s financial system, the restoration of banking operations, the enfranchisement of the private sector, long-term strategy, and local community participation must go hand in hand with humanitarian aid. The Taliban administration need not be formally recognized in order to do these actions.
Even in a fragile economy, providing basic food products and charity money is not a viable alternative. However, restoring the economy continues to be a difficult task. Major barriers include the withholding of cash, U.S. control over international financial organizations like the World Bank, and the fact that Western donor states do not have a common position on engaging the Taliban.
The freezing of Afghanistan’s nearly $7 billion in foreign funds, mostly in the United States, has paralyzed the financial industry. The alleged unwillingness of the Biden administration to unfreeze at least $3.5 billion of the frozen deposits in order to strengthen Afghanistan’s central bank will exacerbate the nation’s already dire economic situation.
The use of Afghanistan’s central banking system and the ability to transfer money are severely restricted for ordinary Afghans and humanitarian groups. Hyperinflation and living expenses have increased to an unaffordable level due to the Afghani’s significant value decline in relation to the US dollar and the country’s high rate of unemployment.